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Loyalty Shouldn't Be Optional

Violation of allegiance to one's country while giving aid or comfort to its enemies. There has to be a simple word for it, though. Oh yeah: Treason! Daniel Perez - Isreal National News [caption id="attachment_12704" align="alignright" width="100" caption="Daniel Perez"]Daniel PerezDaniel Perez[/caption] As a U.S. citizen educated in our public school system, I still remember the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Every morning we stood up, placed our right hands over our hearts and declared our loyalty to this democratic republic which, to this day, I firmly believe is the greatest government in existenc Far from perfect, yes, but as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. As a Jew, I look forward to the coming of Moshiach, who will right the wrongs and usher in an era where G-d himself (not to be confused with whatever voices the mullahs in Iran hear in their heads when they close their eyes) will rule. Short of that, a democratic system, with its checks and balances, is the finest form of government devised by man, and as a Jew I see no contradiction in taking pride in that. Hence, although for the first few years, I was merely mouthing the words as they were placed before me (not unlike, l'havdil, a child learning his or her first tefilot), by the time I was capable of reflecting on the words themselves and their meaning, I would recite them wholeheartedly, proud and confident that this was very much a part of who I am. Yes, it is still galut, not Israel - but a galut wherein a Jew is free to keep Torah, to be Jewish, without fear of reprisal by the state. Sometimes it feels like other people my age forget how rare that is in the context of Jewish history, and how fortunate we are that it is so. In addition to all of the above reasons, I believe an American Jew should take pride in being both an American and a Jew, there is a concept in Jewish Law of "dina demalchuta dina" (roughly: "The law of the land is the law" In other words, so long as they don't prevent us from observing G-d's decrees-for example, the ancient Syrian-Greek bans against Torah study, circumcision, and Rosh Chodesh observance that ignited the Maccabean Revolt-we are required to observe the laws of the nations in which we live, as loyal citizens (or subjects, as the case may be). While "dina demalchuta dina" is a doctrine born of the unique historical predicament in which we Jews have found ourselves, the Children of Israel can hardly claim a monopoly on the ideas of patriotism and civic duty. It is natural for human beings to feel a sense of camaraderie with, and loyalty to the groups to which they belong, be it family, community, or in modern times, natio Conspiracy theorists, Jew-haters, and assorted crackpots (yes, I realize there's a lot of overlap here) like to think of Jews, in places like the United States, as a fifth column; a distinct but homogeneous entity that is not only distinct within the greater entity of the nation, but anxiously awaits its opportunity to rise up and destroy or subjugate the society from whose naïve benevolence it profited. You see what I did there? I started with a small kernel of truth (Jewish distinctness-though we are anything but homogeneous), added a dash of "The International Jew" and pinch of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and wound up with a bit of propaganda that's all the more enduring for its truthful starting point-despite the fact that the true part is completely innocuous by itself, and the rest is utter nonsense. Let's come back to planet Earth for a second. There's a reason I'm bringing up the subject of loyalty here. Now that we've established national loyalty as a Jewish value (indeed, a value common to humans in general), there are a few recent incidents on which I'd like to shed some light. In America, kids grow up reciting the pledge of allegiance, and when an adult accepts pretty much any government job (from law enforcement to political office, and everything in between), they swear an oath (or solemnly affirm) to defend the United States and its constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Makes total sense, right? In fact, it seems logical that any country should demand the same loyalty from its public servants. But apparently Israel, the one and only Jewish state, does not. How can this be, you ask? Why shouldn't the State of Israel only include in its employ those who will seek the welfare of its citizens? The best we can figure is that it's not politically correct. Take the Arab members of Israel's Knesset. When media personality Glenn Beck held a series of pro-Israel rallies around the country, MK Muhammad Barakei denounced Beck as a racist, and said "the lessons from Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount apparently haven't been learned." So apparently the terrorist mini-war for which former Prime Minister Sharon's Temple Mount visit served as the rationalization was meant to serve as a "lesson" to Israel. But Barakei sure doesn't sound like he's speaking for the Israeli government, the one that protects his rights, and oh yeah, writes his paycheck. If one of America's founding fathers had admonished his peers to "learn the lesson" of the Boston Massacre, I suspect he would have (rightly) lost his seat in the Continental Congress, if not his head. Added Barakei: "There is a danger that the event will lead to people being harmed, and the police should have prevented it." Am I the only one who thinks this sounds like a threat? More recently, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset (Ha!) Ahmad Tibi has gone on record as encouraging Hamas (Israel's sworn enemies) to pursue Palestinian statehood at the UN, regardless of the status of negotiations between Israel, the U.S., and the Palestinian Authority. "I strongly recommend determination and insistence on UN statehood recognition with no way to back off," he says. Let's see... violation of allegiance to one's country while giving aid or comfort to its enemies. There has to be a simpler word for it, though. Oh yeah: Treason! All of Israel's political leaders, Jewish or Arab, should be required to affirm their loyalty to that state. If they opt out of loyalty, they opt out of public service. And if they swear loyalty and subsequently violate the public trust, they forfeit their position-and depending on the extent of their betrayal, are punished accordingly. It's that simple. The Israelis banned openly-seditious Arab factions from the election back in 2009. They can, and must do so again. This isn't about race, and it isn't about religion. Anyone who runs for office with the intent of undermining that office and harming those they were chosen to serve, ought to be removed from office, and executed. Okay, fine, deported. Daniel Perez is news editor of the Jewish Voice, a weekly newspaper based in Brooklyn.  

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